By Neil Halligan
Temporary measure introduced last year to clear backlog
UK expats will need to apply to renew their passports in the standard way from next week, as the temporary one-year extension brought in last year comes to an end.
The British Home Office introduced the one-year extension in June last year to ease a huge backlog of applications from expats, but, in a statement on its website, the Home Secretary announced the extension stamp for overseas passport holders is about to come to an end.
More than 20,000 customers benefited from the contingency measure, but with passport demand returning to expected levels, the Home Secretary has reviewed the provision and from April 10 all British passport holders overseas should follow the guidance for their country of residence on the Gov.uk website.
The UK Passport Office will be contacting all of those who hold a passport with an extension stamp, at least two months before the expiry of their stamp, to encourage them to renew their passports.
Anyone with an extension stamp will be given a seven working day service if they submit all the correct documentation to the passport office in the UK within a specified period of six weeks of being contacted.
Currently, passport renewals from the UK take between six to eight weeks, depending on type. An application for a new passport, or for a replacement passport, takes eight weeks, according to the website.
“Following the significant demand for passports last year, the Home Secretary introduced 12-month extension stamps so that those British passport holders abroad whose passports were about to expire could travel,” Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said.
“This was a temporary measure to ensure that international customers were still able to travel during what was an exceptional period of demand. Overseas turnaround times have improved significantly and are now well within service standards. But we still encourage all overseas passport holders to apply in good time to avoid disruption to their travel plans.”